What is the Law on Seditious libel in Michigan and What are the Punishments for it?
Sedition libel, in simplest terms, is used in the cases of written defamation. Most importantly, it is when newspapers, magazines and other such publications print false news or images in order to spread slander and destroy the reputation of another person, business, or organization. In addition to this, social media posts and comments also fall under the category of seditious libel, as they are written as well.
Seditious Libel in the State of Michigan
Verbal defamation or seditious libel involves causing harm to another person or business, communicated in a manner which is explicitly to degrade, incite, humiliate, or spread hatred towards the person or organization in question.
However, the victim must prove that is was indeed a case of seditious libel that was targeted towards them, and not simply a case of misdirected or false reporting. The victim has a time period of one year with which to file the complaint, explain in a court of law why the statement is given is slander with ample evidence and the sort of compensation that the victim requires from the accused of the damages that have been caused to them.
Private and Public Persons
A private person who has been a victim of seditious libel has to go to court and prove a case of negligence or bad reporting by the publication, in order to get their case approved by a court of law. In addition to this, they can also show whether the libel in question harmed them monetarily, socially, or cost them their job.
When it comes to the seditious libel of a public person, they have a tougher job on their hands owing to the fact that public people in the state of Michigan are viewed through a microscope. Thus, if there is even a shred of evidence to prove that the individual in question said anything even remotely connected to the slander, they= case will be dismissed and the accused will be let go. Thus, the onus falls on the public person prove that they have not said anything on the record even related to the topic of the slander and that there was actual malice behind the accused person's actions of spreading slander against them.
Defenses against Seditious Libel
For any case in Michigan which is connected to slander, defamation or seditious libel, the accused only and three option that is given to them by the state in order to justify their actions. These three defenses are:
- Truth: The accused believed the statements to be nothing but the truth during the time of publishing them, and was either unaware of the sedition completely, or know about it later.
- General reporting: The accused was merely reporting what had been conveyed to them on the record, and has no malicious intent or ill will towards the victims.
- General Opinion: Whatever was published by the accused was their own opinion and was not influenced by any other external factors. In such a scenario, however, it becomes very difficult for the court to sentence the accused, as their statements are thus neither a straight-out fact nor can the words be proved as a false statement.
Penalties for Seditious Libel in the State of Michigan
The penalties for seditious libel in the state of Michigan include the following:
- Punitive damages
- Actual Damages
- Compensatory Damages
In addition to this, the media houses are also presented with the option of retracting their statements and issuing a public apology. In such a case, the victim does not receive any punitive damages.